A week after the Haines Borough Planning Commission discussed placing restrictions on commercial logging and other resource extraction in the Mud Bay rural residential zone, a local land developer has applied for a residential land-use permit that includes plans to sell logs from trees cleared for a planned residential subdivision.

Skookum Holdings owner Robert Schnabel’s May 19 permit application includes residential lot development on 157 acres of land he bought in 2003.

“The land was purchased with the intent to develop the property into a subdivision,” Schnabel wrote in his application. “The plan is to clear the property for residential lots, salvaging the quality logs for commercial sale to offset the development costs.”

But in an interview this week, Schnabel said he doesn’t plan to do any commercial logging in the area, and the reason the language was in the permit application was to provide history.

“I’ve got an existing road and I’m going to put some rock on it,” Schnabel said. “Period.”

Schnabel said he would work on the project intermittently when time and materials become available.

No language in Mud Bay zoning regulations addresses resource extraction, defined in code as the clearing, mining or grading of land for commercial purposes. Property owners in the Mud Bay zoning district currently are free to log or dig gravel for commercial purposes at any scope without planning commission approval or public notification.

Only a land-use permit approved by the borough manager is required.

Issues involved in the proposed development appear similar to ones in Schnabel’s recent battle to remove rock from land on Young Road that Schnabel said would become a residential subdivision. In that case, the borough determined Schnabel’s plans amounted to resource extraction requiring a conditional use permit in the neighborhood.

A road built in 2004 runs along a portion of the property’s southern boundary. The recent application says Schnabel wants to improve the existing road to “provide access to the property in order to further evaluate project development.”

Borough planner Holly Smith is reviewing Schnabel’s permit and wrote to the CVN that when all required documentation is submitted, the permit likely will be approved.

“Commercial logging as part of site preparation cannot be regulated as resource extraction in this instance because there are no regulations in the Mud Bay rural residential zone,” Smith wrote. “Approval for the permit will be determined by the borough manager.”

Pending assembly approval of a negotiated contract, Debra Schnabel, Roger’s sister, will likely take over as borough manager on June 1, assembly member Margaret Friedenauer said.

The planning commission made no decision at its last meeting but chair Rob Goldberg indicated the commission might consider placing restrictions on how many board feet of timber property owners could sell.

“It may be a matter of scale, a certain size of resource extraction that may be acceptable to most people and compatible with rural residential zoning and above a certain amount it may not be acceptable,” Goldberg said during the May 11 meeting. “The scale is going to have a lot to do with the impacts on neighboring properties.”

Several Mud Bay residents spoke to the planning commission in favor of allowing small scale commercial logging, including Sylvia Heinz whose family owns a small sawmill in the area.

Heinz said she’d like to see small-scale resource extraction allowed without a conditional use permit, and large scale resource extraction allowed when it doesn’t infringe on neighborhood rights and property values.

Others were more concerned such logging would negatively affect their property values or their quality of life.

Bill Finlay wrote the commission stating that, whether it’s firewood, for personal use or sale, “clearing any trees from a residential-sized lot should be a protected right.” He said commercial logging or gravel extraction from larger tracts of land should require a conditional use permit.

Katey Palmer said what one neighbor does to their property can affect other neighbors directly, citing as an example trees cut down for a driveway that exposed a neighbor’s land to strong winds, causing a neighbor’s trees to blow down.

The planning commission may make a recommendation to the borough assembly at its June 8 meeting. Should the commission recommend changes to Mud Bay zoning code, those would likely take weeks of public hearings and discussion before enactment